The International Workingmen's Association 1864

Draft for a Speech by Karl Marx on
France’s Historical Attitude to Poland

(Polemics against Peter Fox)

Written: in December 1864;
First published: in K. Marx, Manuskripte über die polnische Frage, S.-Gravenhage, 1961;
Transcribed: by


Mr. Fox has rolled up a rather phantastic picture of the foreign policy of the French Ancient Regime. According to his view, France allied herself with Sweden, Poland, and Turkey in order to protect Europe from Russia. The truth is that France contracted those alliances in the 16th and 17th centuries, at a time when Poland was still a powerful state and when Russia, in the modern sense of the word, did not yet exist. There existed then a Grand Duchy of Muscovy, but there existed not yet a Russian Empire. It was therefore not against Russia that France concluded those alliances with the Turks, the Magyars, the Poles, and. the Swedes. She concluded them against Austria and against the German Empire, as a means of extending the power, the influence, and the territorial possessions of France over Germany, Italy, Spain. I shall not enter upon details. It will suffice for my purpose to say, that France used those alliances in the midst of the 17th century to bring about the treaty of Westphalia, by which Germany was not only dismembered, one part of it being given to France and the other to Sweden, but every little German prince and baron obtained the treaty right to sell his country and France obtained a protectorate over Germany. After the treaty of Westphalia, in the second part of the 17th century, Louis XIV, the true representative of the old Bourbon policy at the time of its strength, bought the king of England, Charles II, in order to ruin the Dutch republic. His system of vandalism and perfidy then carried out against Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Piedmont — during about 40 years, cannot be better characterised than by the one fact, that in a memorandum, drawn up in 1837 by the Russian chancellery for the information of the present Czar, the system of war and diplomacy of Louis XIV from the middle to the end of the 17th century is recommended as the model system to be followed by Russia.

—Modern Russia dates only from the 18th century, and it is therefore from that time alone that resistance to Russia could have entered into the policy of France or any other European state.

I proceed at once to the time of Louis XV which Mr. Fox has justly pointed out as the epoch when the French foreign policy was most favourable to Poland and most hostile to Russia.

Now there happened three great events under the regime of Louis XV — in regard to Russia and Poland, 1) the so-called Polish succession war, 2) the Seven Years' War, and 3) the first partition of Poland. I shall consider the attitude taken by the French government in regard to these events.

1. The So-called Polish Succession War

After the death of Augustus II (king of Poland and elector of Saxony), in September 1733, one party of the Polish aristocracy wanted to elect his son [1] as king. He was supported by Russia and Austria, because he had promised to the Czarina [2] not to reclaim Courland, formerly a fief of Poland, and because he had promised to the Emperor [3] the guarantee of the pragmatic sanction. The other party, instigated by France, elected Stanislaus Leszczinski, who had formerly been made Polish king by Charles XII of Sweden and who was at that time the father-in-law of Louis XV. There broke consequently a war out between France on the one hand, Russia and Austria on the other. This is the only war which France has ever professedly carried on behalf of Poland. France made war in Germany and Italy, but as far as her Polish protégé was concerned, limited herself to sending 1,500 men to Dantzick, then a Polish town. The war having lasted two years, what was its upshot? A treaty of peace (Peace of Vienna, October 1735), by which the duchy of Lorraine, a German fief, was incorporated into France, and the Bourbon dynasty planted in Naples and Sicily, the same dynasty of which king Bomba [4] was the last lively representative. In all other respects this "war about the throne of Poland" ended in acknowledging the Russian candidate, Augustus III, as king of Poland, but securing to Louis XV's father-in-law the prerogative of being called king and a very large yearly pension to be paid by Poland. This war instigated and carried on by France under false pretences, ended in the humiliation of Poland, the extension of the Russian power, and great disadvantages to Turkey and Sweden, which France had also driven into a false position and then left in the lurch. But I shall not enter upon these details.

The conduct of the French government cannot be excused on the plea that the British government prevented it during this so-called Polish succession war of acting in the right direction. On the contrary. When the Emperor Charles VI appealed to England, the latter clung to the Anglo-French alliance which had continued since 1716 and was barren of any good results whatever. At all events: this time the French government's good designs for Poland were not baffled by England.

Before leaving the subject, I. must mention that the peace between Turkey and Russia, brought about by French mediation (Villeneuve, French ambassador) in 1739, was a great blow to Poland. I quote Rulhière; he says:

"it annulled the treaty of the Pruth, the only shield that remained to the Poles" ("cet unique bouclier qui restait à la Pologne"), et le nouveau traité, signé à Belgrad, in 1739, déclara dans son dernier article "que toutes les conventions antérieures n'auraient plus aucune force". [5]

2. The Seven Years' War (1756-1763)

I come now to the 7 Years' War.

Mr. Fox has told you that that war was very unhappy for France, because it deprived her, to the benefit of England, of most of her colonies. But this is not the question before us. What we have to inquire into is, what part France played during that war in regard to Poland and Russia.

You must know that from 1740 to 1748, during the so-called Austrian succession war, France had allied herself with Frederick II of Prussia against Russia, Austria and England. During the Seven Years' War she allied herself with Austria and Russia against Prussia and England, so that, at all events, during this war England was the official enemy, and France the avowed ally of Russia.

It was first in 1756 under the Abbe Bernis, and then again 1758 under the duke of Choiseul, that France concluded her treaty with Austria (and Russia), against Prussia.

Let us hear Rulhière. (Histoire de l'Anarchie de Pologne etc. Paris 1819. 2nd edit.)

"When Count Broglie arrived in 1752 as ambassador at Varsovie, France had no party in Poland. People thought of the promises which France had already so often failed to fulfil (auxquelles la France avait déjà si souvent manqué). They had not forgotten that three times since a century, France had rallied around her powerful Polish factions... but that after having formed them with passion (ardeur), she had always abandoned them with levity (elle les avait chaque fois abandonnées avec légèreté). She had left in distress the majority of those who had trusted to the seductions of her pretended projects for the welfare of the republic" (t. I, 213). ("Elle avait laissé dans l'infortune la plupart de ceux qui s'étaient livrés à la séduction de ces prétendus projets pour le salut de la république.")

"The Duke of Broglie, after three years' activity, had formed a counterparty against the Czartoryski, [6] won over the Polish court, put into motion the Swedes, the Tartars, the Turks, opened a connection with the Cossacks of the Ukraine" etc. "Frederick II contributed to call into life this formidable coalition against the Russians, from which he expected himself his own security. The Russian minister [7] had lost all influence at Warsaw. In one word, in the first months of 1756, at the moment when the hostilities between England and France, first opened in America, were on the point of embracing the whole of Europe, Count Broglie had it in his power to form in Poland a confederation which, supported by the subsidies of France, provided by her with arms and munitions, and protected by so many border nations would have altogether withdrawn Poland from the yoke of Russia and restored to that republic laws, government, and power. But France suspended all the help (secours) she had promised, and upset all the measures of her ambassador." (Rulhière, t. I, p. 225.)

The levity with which France abused her influence may be seen — en passant — from the way in which she treated Sweden. First she goaded her into a war with Prussia against Russia (in the Austrian succession war), and then into a war with Russia against Prussia, Sweden being both times the victim of those French intrigues, and Russia gaining both times in that quarter.

Well. What were the consequences of the Seven Years' War which France carried on as the ally of Russia (and Austria) against Prussia (and England)?

That the material resources of Poland were exhausted, that Russia founded her supremacy in Germany, that Prussia was made her slave, that Catherine II became the most powerful sovereign in Europe, and that the first partition of Poland took place. Such were the immediate consequences of the French policy during the Seven Years' War.

1) During the Seven Years' War the Russian armies treated Poland as their property, took there their winter-quarters etc. I shall quote Favier:

"The peril was that Russia, improving the pretext of the war against the king of Prussia, enforced, on the territory of Poland, the passage of her troops, appropriated herself the means of subsistence, and even took her winter-quarters in Poland. By allowing her to employ anew those arbitrary means, that vast country was surrendered to the greediness of the Russian generals, the despotism of their court, and all the projects of future usurpations which Russia would be tempted to form, from the facility of exercising all sorts of vexations against a nation divided, insulated, and abandoned." (Politique de tous les cabinets de l'Europe etc. 2nd edit. par L. P. Ségur, Ex-ambassadeur. Paris, 1801, t. 1, p. 300.)

France discredited herself by giving the Russians such free scope.

"That weakness on her part seemed the less pardonable (excusable) because ... she was then in a position to make the law to Russia and Austria, and not at all to receive it from them."

Count Broglie had made in vain proposals to that effect... France allowed Russia to treat Poland like her own property... The Polish nation, from that moment, considered France as a mere instrument in the hands of the courts of Vienna and Petersburg.

"This was the origin of our discredit, of our nullity at the time of the election of Count Poniatowski, and of the bad success of everything we attempted or favoured since that epoch". (303, 304,1. c. Ségur.) ("la nation polonaise ne vit plus dés lors la France que comme un instrument des cours de Vienne et de Pétersbourg. [...] Voilà l'origine de notre discrédit, de notre nullité etc.")

France was bound, by the Treaty of Oliva (1660) to protect the Polish Republic.

2) During the 7 Years' War the Russians used Poland, although she was ostensibly neutral, as their basis of operations against Prussia. This the Poles allowed under the diplomatic pressure of France. It was thus that the Russians were enabled during 7 years to devastate Prussia proper, Silesia, Pomerania, Brandenburg, and even sack Berlin. They in fact ravaged the Prussian monarchy like wild beasts, while the French acted in the same style in Hanover, Westphalia, Saxony, Thuringia etc. Now, Poland was by the treaty of Wehlau (1660 or so) obliged to defend Prussia, against Russia. Frederick II insisted upon the fulfilment of this treaty. That he was right in asking the Poles to observe at least a complete neutrality, and not allowing the Russians to use their country etc., is proved by the fact that on all the diets kept in Poland since the opening of the Seven Years' War, it was impossible to come to any resolution, because the patriotic party declared, the Poles could not deliberate as long as Russian armies occupied the Polish soil and acted against Prussia. In the last year of the war (1762) the nobility of Posen (Great Poland) had even formed a confederation against the Russians.

If f. i. Belgium allowed Prussia to use it during 7 years, despite its neutrality, as a basis of warlike operations against France, would France not be entitled to treat Belgium as an enemy, and, if she could, to incorporate Belgium, or destroy its independence?

3) The immediate upshot of the 7 Years' War was a treaty between Prussia and Russia, by which the king of Prussia professed himself the vassal of Russia, Poniatowski king of Poland but was allowed, in compensation, to share in the partition of Poland. That the latter was already convened upon in the treaty of 1764 between Russia and Frederick II is shown by the fact that in the same year Frederick II's and Catherine II's ambassadors at Warsaw [8] solemnly protested against that "calumny", and that a few years later the English resident at Berlin [9] wrote to his court that Austria, although at first protesting, would be compelled by her proper interests to share in the partition of Poland.

Mr. Favier says:

"Our exclusive alliance with the court of Vienna deprived Frederick II of all hope, and reduced him to the necessity of joining that very court which had let loose France upon him, in order to destroy him" [10]

The same Favier avers that the secret of all the future successes of Catherine II and of the first partition of Poland is to be found in the infeodation to her of Prussia. (Frederick II.)

Such was the result of the French policy during the 7 Years' War. It cannot be said that England this time prevented her good designs for Poland, because France was then the ally of Russia, while England stood on the other side.

[3.] First Partition of Poland

Now I must say that even if France had acted more energetically during the Polish war which ended in the first partition of Poland than she really did, it would not have made up for the immense services she had rendered to Russia during the Seven Years' War. The sending of some French officers and subsidies to Poland during the war of the Confederation of Bar could in the best case only prolong a useless resistance. It is true that France incited (1768) Turkey to a war against Russia, but only to betray Turkey as usually, and prepare for her the "treaty of Kudjuk Kainardji" (1774), from which the supremacy of Russia over Turkey must really be dated.

1770. Russian Expedition into the Mediterranean. The then almost dying republic of Venice showed much more courage than France. In that year Choiseul still French foreign minister. It was only at the end of 1770 (beginning of 1771) that he was replaced by the Duke d'Aiguillon.

"How," says Favier, "did it happen that, while France was at peace with England, no step was taken for a convention of neutrality for the Mediterranean? Or why did France alone not oppose this Russian enterprise in a quarter so important for her interests?"

The opinion of Favier is, that

"the destruction of the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean by the French [which] might have been easily effected, would probably have changed the whole course of events both in Turkey and Poland, and would, moreover, have taught Austria to respect the French Alliance" (Ségur etc. Politique de tous les cabinets etc., v. II, p. 174).

But France who had goaded Turkey into the war against Russia did not move one finger against the Russian expedition of 1770, the only one which was of any import. (The Turkish fleet destroyed in the narrow bay of Tschesmé.) The same Choiseul had English bluster (Chatham himself) not allowed to prevent him a year ago from buying Corsica from the Genoese. You must not forget that at that time North was minister, and could only keep himself in office by keeping the peace at any price. He was one of the most unpopular ministers. At that time revolutionary, anti-dynastic movement in England. It is true that in 1773 (the Russians made then a new naval expedition which, however, remained without any influence upon the war with Turkey) the duke of Aiguillon allowed himself to be prevented by the English Ambassador at Paris, Lord Stormont, from attacking the Russian fleet in the Baltic (and Mediterranean). At that time the first partition of Poland was already consummated. The true object of the French demonstration was not Poland, but Sweden, and France so far succeeded, that Gustave III was not forced by Russia to rescind his coup d'état (1772).

Moreover, what sort of fellow this d'Aiguillon was?

Ségur says in his notes to Favier:

"When the rumour got first afloat as to the partition which was to give Prussia an increase of territory which Austria was afraid of, the court of Vienna warned France, and gave her to understand that she would oppose herself, if the court of Versailles would support her. Louis XV, at that time only occupied by his pleasures, and M. d'Aiguillon by his intrigues, the Austrian cabinet received no re-assuring answer and liked better to concur to the partition of Poland than to maintain alone a war against the Prussians and Russians combined." ([t. I], 147 Note.) "Count Mercy — Austrian ambassador — has publicly given out" (répandu dans le public) "that the king of Prussia had communicated to the Austrian minister [11] the answers of the Duke of Aiguillon, by which that minister assured His Prussian Majesty that France was indifferent to all that could be done in Poland and that she would not consider a casus foederis" (case of war) "anything that might be agreed upon, in regard to that subject, by the courts of Berlin and Vienna" (245, Note).

Now, although I do not put any confidence whatever in the assurances of the Austrian court, which was then acting with the utmost perfidy, the very fact, that a French ambassador of Louis XVI (Ségur), published this at Paris, shows the estimation Louis XV and his d'Aiguillon enjoyed — and were worth enjoying.

[4.] French Republic

From September 21, 1792 to November 11, 1799 (the day after 19 Brumaire, when the Executive Directory was overthrown). [12]

The second partition treaty between Russia and Prussia on 4 January 1793.[13]

The first crusade against France 1792 had taken such an unfortunate turn, that already in the beginning of winter the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) were occupied by the French. Prussia withdrew her troops from the field of action, the condition insisted upon by her on the Congress of Verdun for continuing her participation in the Anti-Jacobin war was that she should be allowed to make with Russia a second partition of Poland. Austria was to be compensated by indemnities in the Alsace.

At the end of 1793 (September) Prussia again withdrew her troops to march them, under the king, [14] to the Polish frontier (to "secure" his Polish possession), because some differences had broken out, in regard to some definitive stipulations, between Prussia and Russia, the latter seeming to turn against Prussia her influence over the expiring diet of the traitors of Targowicze. The result of this second withdrawal of Prussia, to take real possession of her Polish provinces, forces the Austrians to withdraw from the Alsace.

In the spring of 1794 Kosciuszko's revolutionary rising. Prussia marched at once her troops against Poland. Beaten. In September 1794, while forced to retreat from Warsaw, at the same time rising in Posen. Then the king of Prussia declared his intention to withdraw from the contest carried on against France. Austria also, in the autumn 1794, detached a body of troops for Poland, by which circumstance the success of the French arms on the Rhine and so forth was secured. Already towards the end of 1794 Prussia commenced negotiations with France. Withdrew. Consequence: Holland succumbed to the French (conquest of Holland through Pichegru).

Those diversions facilitated by turns the conquest of Belgium, the success on the Alps, the Pyrenees, the left bank of the Rhine, and, 1795, the conquest of Holland by Pichegru. In the very months October, November (1794) everywhere French successes when Kosciuszko succumbed, Praga was taken by Suvorov etc., immense murdering etc.

Third Partition of Poland signed: 24 October 1795.

By the outbreak of the French Revolution Catherine got the opportunity quietly first to carry on her war with Turkey, while all Europe was turned to the West.

As the Pope has issued bulls for crusades against the infidels, so Catherine II against the Jacobins. Even while Leopold II chased the French Émigré's from his states and forbade them to assemble on the French frontiers, Catherine, through her agent Rumjanzev, provided them with money and quartered them in the frontier provinces, bordering upon France, and ruled by ecclesiastic princes.

After the conclusion of her war with Turkey, Catherine II did not commence her hostilities against Poland before she had been informed that the National Assembly had declared war to Austria. This news arrived at Vienna on 30 April 1792, and on the 18 May the Russian ambassador Boulgakov presented a declaration of war to the Polish king Stanislaus. [15] The first in impressing upon England, Austria and Prussia the dangers of the revolutionary principles, Catherine steadily pursued her own separate interests (in Turkey and Poland) without furnishing a single Cossack or subscribing a single rouble for the "common cause".

Poland was blotted out under cover of the French Revolution and the Anti-Jacobin war.

Rev. L. K. Pitt (a nephew or cousin of the English minister), chaplain to the British factory at St. Petersburg, writes in a secret document: "Account of Russia during the Commencement of the Reign of the Emperor Paul":

"She" (the Czarina) "was not perhaps displeased to see every European power exhausting itself in a struggle, which raised in proportion to its violence her own importance ... the state of the newly acquired provinces in Poland was likewise a point which had considerable influence over the political conduct of the Czarina. The fatal effects resulting from an apprehension of revolt on the late seat of conquest, seem to have been felt in a very great degree by the combined powers who, in the early period of the revolution, were so near re-instating the regular government in France. The same dread of revolt deterred likewise the late Empress of Russia from entering on the great theatre of war."

The question is now: How behaved revolutionary France towards this useful ally.

Let us first hear a French historian, Lacretelle (t. XII, p. 261 sqq.)

"The Republic", says he, "had shown itself very indifferent to the troubles and misfortunes of Poland. It was on the contrary a great motive of security for it to see the Empress of Russia occupy all the forces of her powerful empire for the conquest and dismemberment of that unfortunate country. Very soon the French Republic became aware that Poland freed it of its most ardent enemy, the king of Prussia etc." [16]

But republican France actually betrayed Poland.

"The Polish agent Bars at Paris presented to the government", says Oginski, an eye-witness, "the plan of the revolution which was preparing in Poland, and which was received with a general enthusiasm and approbation. He enumerated the assistance of every kind which would be necessary for that important and daring enterprise. The Comité du Salut Public found his demand very just and promised to do every thing possible; but to promises all the negotiation was limited." (Michel Oginski: Mémoires sur la Pologne etc., from 1788 to the end of 1815. Paris, 1826, t. I, p. 358.)

"The comité of public welfare had promised to general Kosciuszko a sum of 3 millions of livres and some officers of artillery; but we did receive neither one single sou nor one single officer",

we are told by an aide-de-camp of Kosciuszko, J. Niemcewicz: Notes sur ma captivité à St. Pétersbourg, en 1794-1796. Paris, 1843. (V. p. 90.) [17]

On 5 April 1795 the directory (which had then replaced the comité du salut public) concluded with Prussia the Peace of Basel. By this peace Holland and the left bank of the Rhine were surrendered to France. The northern part of Germany, designed by a line of demarcation, was neutralised, Prussia to be indemnified by the secularisation of several German bishoprics. That treaty of Basel

"by guaranteeing the respective possessions of the two contracting powers, and including no clause whatever in regard to the newly invaded provinces of Poland, granted their possession to the king of Prussia". [18]

Oginski tells us that when the Poles were informed of the peace-negotiations, their agent Bars addressed the members of the directory peculiarly friendly to Poland, and asked for a clause obliging the king of Prussia to renounce etc.

"He was answered that the condition was not acceptable since it would retard the negotiations with Prussia, that France wanted to restore her forces, that the peace with Prussia would not last long, that the Poles should keep themselves ready for new efforts which would be asked from them in the cause of liberty and their country etc."

The same Oginski, t. II, p. 133 and 223, tells us:

"The treaty concluded between the French Republic and the king of Prussia had made a very bad impression upon the Divan, which pretended that if France had been unable to obtain anything for Poland in her negotiations with the court of Berlin, it was impossible that the Turcs alone could act in favour of Poland."

After the third division Russia was forced to keep quiet for a few years. The Poles now participated in all the campaigns of the French Republic, principally in Italy. (See: Chodzko: Histoire des Légions Polonaises en Italie, dè 1795 à 1802. Paris, 1829.)

Before the conclusion of the Peace of Campo-Formio (17 October 1797), after a plan mutually agreed upon, and with the consent of Bonaparte, General Dombrowski was to march through Croatia and Hungary, into Galicia. and thus make a diversion in favour of Bonaparte, who would have marched upon Vienna. Charles de la Croix, minister of foreign affairs (see Oginski, t. II, p. 272-278) proposed to Oginski "to insurge Galicia". Oginski was afraid lest the Poles should be treated as mere tools thrown away after having been used. He therefore demanded a positive assurance that those sacrifices would earn for them French assistance for the recovery of their country. Lacroix played then the irritated bully. The French government did not want them; if they had no confidence, they might try their fortune somewhere else etc. He gave Oginski three days' time for considering, after which they were to accept or [to] refuse, but without putting any conditions whatever. The poor Poles declared ready for whatever the French: government wanted. But that government wanted only their formal acceptance in order to intimidate Austria by it and so to: hasten the conclusion of peace. Armistice at Leoben, 18 April 1797.

Treaty of Campo-Formio in which the Poles were again sacrificed in the same way as they had been in the treaty of Basel.

In 1799 at last Suvorov, the effect of the disappearance of Poland made itself felt to the French republic. Russian armies appeared in Holland and in Italy. Suvorov penetrates to the very frontiers of France.

When on 27 July 1799 [19] the French surrendered Mantua to the Russian general Vielhorski, there was a secret article in the capitulation by which the Austrians got back their deserters, viz. the Austrian Poles who had entered the legions. After the surrender of Mantua, the 2nd legion fell into the hands of the enemy; the first legion, under Dombrowski, joined the Great Army, and was almost entirely annihilated in the great battles against the Russo-Austrian armies.

[5.] Consulate

9 November 1799 (18 Brumaire) Consulate. Bonaparte authorizes the formation of new Polish legions, one at Marseilles under Dombrowski, one on the Danube under general Kniaziewicz. These legions assist at Marengo and Hohenlinden. See order of the day of general Moreau, where he renders justice

"to the stern constancy of general Kniaziewicz and his Polish soldiers". [20]

Treaty of Lunéville with Austria, 9 February 1801. [21] No article relating to Poland.

Treaty of Paris, October 1801, with Paul I of Russia. In this treaty Paul I and Bonaparte promised each other

"not to allow that any of their subjects should be allowed to entertain any correspondence, whether direct or indirect, with the internal enemies of the actual governments of the two states, there to propagate principles contrary to their respective constitutions, or to foment troubles". [22]

This article related to the Poles on the [one] hand, to the Bourbons and their partisans on the other.

In 1801 there appeared in the Moniteur a series of articles written by Bonaparte himself and justifying the ambition of France, because her conquests were hardly an equivalent for the acquisitions which Russia, Austria and Prussia had made by the partition of Poland. (Thiers, Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire, t. III, p. 153.)

During the peace the Polish legions were treated as an encumbrance. Part of them were, like Mamelucks, given by Bonaparte as a present to the queen of Etruria. [23]

Treaty of Amiens. 27 March 1802. The first consul made embark, by force, for St. Domingo part of the Polish legions and made present of the other part to the new king of Naples. [24] Threatened by the fire of artillery, they were embarked at Genoa and Livorno to find their graves in St. Domingo.

[6.] Empire

May 1804 (crowned 2 December 1804) until 1815.

1806-1807. During his war with Prussia, supported by Russia, Napoleon sent the remainders of the Polish legions under Dombrowski into Prussian Poland, where they conquered Dantzick for him, and insurged the country.

18 December 1806. Napoleon himself in Warsaw, then Prussian. Great enthusiasm of the Poles. In his autobiography Thomas Ostrowski (Paris 1836), president of the Senate, narrates that Napoleon, at the first audience he gave to the members of the administration, received them with the words:

"Gentlemen, I want to-day 200,000 bottles of wine, and as many portions of rice, meat and vegetables. No excuses; if not, I leave you to the Russian knout... I want proofs of your devotion; I stand in need of your blood" ("j'ai besoin de votre sang"). [25]

He enrolled a Polish army. The campaign lasted until 6 May 1807.

25 and 26 June 1807. Fraternisation between Napoleon and Alexander on the Niemen.

Treaty of Tilsit, signed 7 July 1807 (9 July with Prussia).

Art. V of that treaty proclaimed the foundation of the duchy of Warsaw which Napoleon cedes

"in all property and sovereignty to the king of Saxony, [26] to be ruled by constitutions, which, while securing the liberties and privileges of the duchy, were compatible with the tranquillity of the neighbouring states".

This duchy was cut out of Prussian Poland.

Art. IX cedes to Russia a part of Poland, the circle of Byalistock, recently conquered from Prussia, and which

"shall be united in perpetuity to the Russian empire, in order to establish the natural limits between Russia and the duchy of Warsaw". [27]

Dantzic, on the pretext of being made a free town, was made a French maritime fortress.

Many large estates in the new duchy were made a present of by Napoleon to the French generals.

Lelewel calls this justly the Fourth Division of Poland. [28]

Having beaten the Prussians and the Russians by the assistance of the Poles, Napoleon disposed of Poland, as if she was a conquered country and his private property, and he disposed of her to the advantage of Russia.

The duchy of Warsaw was small, without position in Europe. A large civil list; civil government by Saxony, military by Napoleon. Davout ruled like a Pasha at Warsaw. He made in fact of the duchy a recruiting place for France, a military depôt.

(Sawaszkiewicz, Tableau de l'influence de la Pologne sur les destinées de la Révolution française. Paris, 1848, 3ème édit.)

The duchy of Warsaw was for Napoleon not only an advanced post against Russia. Napoleon had possessed himself of those very points which would serve him as a basis of offensive operations against Prussia and Austria. Nicholas acted in his spirit when he fortified those points by a chain of fortresses.

(By inserting at the head of the treaty of Tilsit the declaration that only out of courtesy for Alexander he restored to the king of Prussia [29] half of his old territories, Napoleon proclaimed that king, and Prussia, a mere appendage to Russia.)

By the secret articles of the treaty of Tilsit the public ones were partly revoked. Thus f. i. only to deceive Austria, the public treaty contained articles for the integrity of Turkey. By the secret articles Napoleon sacrificed Turkey and Sweden to the Czar who surrendered to him Portugal, Spain, Malta, and the North African coast; promised his accession to the continental system, and the surrender of the Ionian islands to France. The partition of Turkey was only prevented by the opposition of Austria. All the arrangements for a partition of Turkey were beginning after the conclusion of the Tilsit treaty. In August 1808 Alexander handed over to Napoleon the strong places of Dalmatia, also the protectorate over the Ionian islands; while the Danubian principalities were occupied by his troops, Napoleon ordered Marmont, the French commander in Dalmatia, to prepare the march upon Albania and Macedonia. The negotiations about the partition of Turkey were continued at Petersburg, whither Napoleon had sent Savary, the head of his gendarmes and mouchards. The Report on his negotiations with Rumjanzev, the Russian foreign minister, has been recently published. Even Thibaudeau, one of Napoleon's senators and admirers, says about the negotiations of Savary with Alexander I and Rumjanzov:

"Putting aside every diplomatical form, they transacted their business in the impudent and reckless way of robber-chiefs dividing their booty". [30]

According to the negotiations between Napoleon and Alexander at Tilsit, Sweden and Denmark were to be forced to join the continental system. Napoleon ceded to Alexander Finland (which the Russians occupied in 1808, and have ever kept since), and besides Denmark was interested in the robbery of Sweden by making Norway over to her. Thus Napoleon succeeded in completely breaking down this old antagonist of Russia.

27 September 1808. Napoleon and Alexander at the Erfurt Congress.

Never before had any man done so much to exalt the Russian power as Napoleon did from 1807-1812. From 1808 to 1811 the Poles were consumed by Napoleon in Spain. For the first time in their history they were prostituted as the mercenaries of despotism. Of the army of 90,000, formed in the duchy, so many were despatched to Spain, that the duchy was denuded of troops when the Austrian archduke Ferdinand invaded it in 1809.

1809, April. While Napoleon marched upon Vienna, the archduke Ferdinand upon Warsaw. The Poles invade Galicia, force the archduke to withdraw from Warsaw (1 June); the Russians, Napoleon's allies, enter Galicia to assist in fact the Austrians against the Poles.

14 October 1809: The Polish provinces called by the Austrians "New Galicia", together with the district of Zamojsk, was reunited to the duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon left to Austria old Galicia, after having separated from it, in order to make it over to Russia, the district of Tarnopol, part of old Podolia. What we have to think of this Fifth Partition (Lelewel) may be seen from a satirical letter of Czar Alexander I to prince Kourakin, published at the time in the gazettes of Petersburg and Moscow, [31] d. d. Petersburg 1/13 November 1809. The Czar writes:

"The treaty is being ratified between France and Austria, and consequently our hostile movements against the latter cease simultaneously. According to the principles of that peace, Austria remains, as before, our neighbour by her possession of Galicia, and the Polish provinces, instead of being united into one single body, are divided for ever between the three crowns. Thus the dreams of a political revolution in Poland have vanished. The present order of things fixes the limits between Poland and Russia who has not only not suffered any loss in this affair, but on the contrary extends her dominion" (au sein de la Pologne) "in the very heart of Poland." [32]

The Poles now demanded the restoration of the name of Poland for the duchy. The Czar opposed. On October 20, 1809 Champagny, minister of foreign affairs, addressed a note, by order of Napoleon, to the Russian government, in which it was stated that he approved the effacing [of] the name of Pole and Poland, not only from every public act, but even from history. This was to prepare his proposal — after his divorce with Josephine — for the hand of the Czar's sister. [33]

4 January 1810: Secret convention between Napoleon's ambassador Caulaincourt and count Rumjanzev, to this effect:

"Art. 1. The kingdom of Poland shall never be re-established. Art. 2. The name of Poland and Pole shall never be applied to any of the parties that previously constituted that kingdom, and they shall disappear from every public or official act." Besides "the Grand duchy shall never be aggrandised by the annexation of any of the old Polish provinces; the orders of Polish chivalry shall be abolished and, finally, all these engagements shall be binding on the king of Saxony, Grand Duke of Warsaw, as on Napoleon himself." (Thiers, Consulat et l'Empire, XI, [357, 358].)

It was after the negotiations for that convention that Napoleon proposed for the hand of Alexander's sister. Napoleon's irritation and wounded self-love at the hesitation of the Czar (who delayed declaring himself from middle of December to middle of January, under various pretexts), and the repugnance of the Czar's mother, [34] made Napoleon look elsewhere for a wife, and break off negotiations.

"The Emperor Napoleon," says Crétineau-Joly: "Histoire de l'église Romaine en face de la Révolution", "did not allow his policy to lose itself in a phraseology sentimentally revolutionary. With one stroke of the pen his minister effaced, even from history, the name of Poland, and a treaty, which subsequent events rendered null, struck out that name as if it were a geographical superfetation."

After his marriage with the daughter of the Austrian Emperor, [35] Napoleon had a new opportunity for the restoration of Poland. I quote from a French author, whose history is an apotheosis of Napoleon. Norvins says:

"Napoleon was enabled, in 1810, to realise, at last, that noble project", viz. the restoration of Poland, "because Austria offered him both the Galicias, but he refused, in order not to have a war with Russia who prepared war against him the very day after the conclusion of the treaty of Tilsit." [36]

After what has preceded, it is almost superfluous to say that Napoleon made his war of 1812 against Russia not out of any regard for Poland. He was forced into it by Russia who on 19/31 December 1810 allowed the import of colonial commodities in neutral ships, prohibited some French commodities, hardly taxed others, and made not the least concession despite all the diplomatic efforts of Napoleon at preventing the war. He must either resign his continental system, or make war against Russia.

28 June 1812. Day of entry of Napoleon at Vilna. On that day the existence of confederate Poland (that is Poland united to Lithuania) was proclaimed at the diet of Warsaw, and a national war. Napoleon told the deputies of Warsaw, that he did not want a national war. (Charras tells [37] us that by his hatred of such a war etc. 100 days.)


Background: (From editorial notes in the MECW) In view of the anniversary of the Polish insurrection of 1830-31, the Central Council of the International resolved at its meeting of November 29 1864 to issue an address to the Polish people on behalf of the British members of the IWMA. Peter Fox, a Council member and leader of the British National League for the Independence of Poland, was instructed to write it. A democratically-minded journalist, Fox, however, shared the naïve believe of many democrats at that time, and also trade-union leaders, in the "Poland worship" of Western ruling circles, in particular the Bonapartist Second Empire in France. The address submitted by Fox alleged that the traditional policy of France was favourable to Poland's independence. The address led to a discussion at the Sub-Committee's meeting of December 6 and at the Central Council's meetings of December 13 and 20, 1864 and January 3 1865.

Marx's took an active part in the discussion. He criticised Fox's report at the Sub-Committee's meeting of December 6, of which he informed Engels in a letter on December 10 1864, and at the Council's meetings of December 13 and January 3. Marx showed, particularly in his speech on January 3 1865 that they French ruling circles, both under absolutism and under the bourgeois regimes right up to the time of Napoleon III, had always sought to exploit the Polish question in the selfish interests of the ruling classes and that their policy was not favourable to the cause of Poland's independence, of which the sole defenders were the representatives of the revolutionary proletariat. Marx's arguments made the Central Council adopt a decision to enter the appropriate amendments in Fox's address.

When preparing his speeches, Marx collected, in December 1864, material for his polemics with Fox and then used it for the draft speech published here. It reproduced in more concise and polished form the greater part of Marx's preparatory material, but the history of Franco-Polish relations was brought only to 1812. Marx elucidated their later development in his speeches, in particular on January 3, on the basis of preparatory material in which their history was traced up to 1848. [ ... ]

Words and expressions, crossed out by Marx, and the vertical lines drawn by him in the left margins of the MS, usually opposite quotations, are not reproduced. Some paragraphs are numbered by Marx; the rest (in brackets) by the editors. Obvious slips of the pen in the dates have been corrected without comment.

1 Frederick Augustus II (later King Augustus III of Poland).

2 Anna Ivanovna.

3 Charles VI.

4 Ferdinand II (nicknamed "Bomba" for the bombardment of Messina in September 1848).

5 and the last article of the new treaty signed in Belgrade in 1739 declared that all previous conventions will have power no more". Cl. Rulhière, Histoire de l'Anarchie de Pologne, t. I, Paris, 1819.

6 Fryderyk Michal Czartoryski.

7 Heinrich Gross.

8 Gedeon Benoit and Heinrich Gross.

9 Andrew Mitchell.

10 L. P. Ségur, op. cit., t. I, p. 295.

11 Gottfried van Swieten.

12 The text in brackets is in French in the original.

13 More accurately: January 23, 1793.

14 Frederick William II.

15 Poniatowski.

16 Marx quotes Lacretelle's Histoire de France, pendant le XVIII-ème siècle from L. L. Sawaszkiewicz's Tableau de l'influence de la Pologne sur les destinées de la Révolution française et de l'Empire, 3rd ea., Paris, 1848, p. 37, note.

17 Marx quotes both Oginski and Niemcewicz according to Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 33-34.

18 Here and below Marx quotes Ogiriski's Me'moires sur la Pologne in the free rendering given in Sawaszkiewicz's book (op. cit., p. 40).

19 Inaccuracy in the manuscript: April 28.

20 Quoted from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 57, note.

21 Inaccuracy in the manuscript: January 26.

22 Quoted from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 58.

23 Marie-Louise-Josephine, wife of Duke Louis Bourbon of Parma.

24 Joseph Bonaparte.

25 Tomasz Ostrowski's account of Napoleon's speech was rendered by Antoni Ostrowski in Zywot Tomasza Ostrowshiego, Paris, 1836. Marx quotes from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 66.

26 Frederick August I.

27 Articles of the Treaty of Tilsit are quoted from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 68.

28 J. Lelevel, Histoire de Pologne.

29 Frederick William III.

30 A. C. Thibaudeau, Le Consulat et l'Empire, ou Histoire de la France et de Napoléon Bonaparte de 1799 à 1815, t. 6 (Empire — t. 3), p. 222, Paris, 1835.

31 Sankt-Peterburgskiye vedomosti, November 9, 1809 and Moskovskiye vedomosti, November 17, 1809.

32 Quoted from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., pp. 82-83.

33 Anna Pavlovna.

34 Maria Fedorovna.

35 Marie Louise, daughter of Francis I.

36 J. M. Norvins' Histoire de Napoléon is quoted from Sawaszkiewicz, op. cit., p. 84.

37 J. B. Charras, Histoire de la campagne de 1815. Waterloo, Londres, 1858.